CORK'S Northern Ring Road will definitely not be delivered until after 2027, the Department of Transport has confirmed.
The long-awaited project was mentioned in a Project Ireland 2040 report released yesterday by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, sparking hopes that it may become a priority capital infrastructure project for the Government as part of the N20 upgrade between Cork and Limerick.
The report, titled 'Prospects: Ireland’s Pipeline of Major Infrastructure Projects' has a page on the N20 Cork to Limerick road upgrade.
The report stated: "The solution for the N20 corridor will be identified through the appraisal process by the development of a business case for the scheme.
"This process will examine the inclusion of the Cork North Ring Road linking the N20 to Dunkettle."
The report also says that the contract for technical advisors has been awarded and design work has begun for the N20.
The N20 project has an estimated cost of €500m - €1billion, with the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport responsible for its delivery.
However, when contacted, the Department of Transport said that Cork won't see a Northern Ring Road until after 2027.
"The National Development Plan sets out the need to upgrade the road linking Limerick to Cork.
"When the new road reaches Cork it will need a suitable docking point and it is envisaged that in the longer term, that docking point would be where it would meet the Cork North Ring Road.
"The N20 project will examine how that should be planned for. However, in the shorter term, the new N20/M20 will have to tie into the existing road infrastructure in Cork North City.
"The Cork North Ring Road will not be delivered as part of the new N20 Limerick to Cork road in the period of the National Development Plan (2018 to 2027).
"Any delivery of part or all of the Cork North Ring Road would be after 2027."
The Cork Northern Ring Road has been in the pipeline for 15 years.
Cork City Council has repeatedly included the Northern Ring Road in its capital cost applications, but the Government had not prioritised its delivery.
Councillor Thomas Gould says the mention of the Cork Northern Ring Road was included in this new report because "there is an election coming up."
"They know the Northern Ring Road is an issue. During the byelection, I got fierce traction about it. People at the doors were saying the traffic congestion has gotten out of control."
The Sinn Féin councillor says he was not surprised to hear that the project was earmarked for 2027. "The government has no interest in Cork. It's a disgrace it's going to take at least another seven years for it to start.
"It's going to make Cork an unattractive city to live in. It's shocking how badly neglected Cork is.
"I would call for the people in Cork North Central to bring this up at the doors. It should be a major election issue."
Fianna Fáil city councillor, Tony Fitzgerald, said it was "devastating news" for Cork's Northside.
"This a major blow to the confidence people in the Northside have in the government.
"The plans for the Northern Ring Road were first put on display in 2005. We had a huge response to them.
"There has been serious growth in industry, retail, and enterprise on the Northside. It is very disappointing. This goes to show the lack of government representation we have."
The local authority behind the North Ring Road project, Limerick City and County Council, said they are undertaking an "appraisal process" for the North Ring as part of the N20 scheme.
"The Cork North Ring Road, in accordance with the National Development Plan is a complementary but separate standalone scheme to the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Road Improvement Scheme.
"The Cork North Ring Road will be included in a sensitivity test during the appraisal process of the Cork to Limerick road. This appraisal will be undertaken in accordance with TII appraisal procedures as part of the scenarios and sensitivity tests. These actions will inform the N/M20 Cork to Limerick Road Improvement Scheme design."